I first picked up the guitar in 1976. I was a sixth grader and the guitar was a borrowed Harmony. I set out, at first anyway, teaching myself using a guitar method (records and books) by Kenny Rogers, then a member of the First Edition.
Before long, I found a teacher on the recommendation of a friend. Don taught me to read music (The Joe Fava Method for Guitar for guitar fans). But he also taught me the songs of my heroes: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and others. Don had an incredible ear for music and taught me note-perfect rhythm and solos. Remember, this was long before the days of the internet, YouTube, tablature charts ad nauseum and the like. There were, in fact, very few songbooks for the music I loved. Led Zeppelin Complete was the exception.
Don learned all sorts of songs by ear and taught them to me. You have to go back into a time capsule to appreciate what this entailed: Listening, over and over, to songs on a 33 and 1/3 vinyl album, picking up the needle and starting over, etc. until you got it. From his work, I learned songs like “Don’t Want You No More” (Allman Bros. Band); “Roundabout” (Yes); “Ten Years Gone” (Led Zeppelin); and “Purple Haze” (Jimi Hendrix). It was exhilarating.
In subsequent years–again before the avalanche of information, courtesy of the digital age–I followed the same method, dragging out records and listening to them over and over again to get a song just right. I remember doing this with “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg. The exhilaration only heightened.
There’s something about digging things out for yourself, mining your own vein of gold and connecting the dots via your own sweat that having something handed to you just doesn’t cut.
Challenge: Whatever your vocation, hobby, avocation, etc., pop the hood, get inside for yourself, explore, experiment, play around. It’s kind of like apple pie: Why is it that apple pies made from apples from your own apple tree just seems to taste better? It’s the same idea.
You’ll be delighted with all the cool things you figure out for yourself!